About Hudson Clove

The Name

When I first decided to try my hand at growing garlic, the only place I could find to grow was a friend's property in the Hudson Valley. You see, I live used to live in Brooklyn, do not own (farm) land, and the name Hudson Clove suggested that my field was up north, in the Hudson River valley. After my first harvest I applied for farm land with the non-profit Peconic Land Trust, and so it happened that the town of Amagansett on Long Island's southern prong hosted my garlic growing in 2013. In 2014, all my garlic is growing was on two small but excellent plots on the Rockaway Peninsula of Queens. So Hudson Clove has evolved to take on a broader meaning, one beyond the local, to encompass an attitude of itinerancy, exploration and discovery.

Farming As Idea

I have been seduced by the idea of a farm and it's history in American life, thought, and aesthetics. And hasn't the image of the farm been rejuvenated over the last decade along with the local, organic, small farm movement? Although there is beauty and the occasional startling revelation, farming of this sort is an expense of labor on knees and feet. It is hard work. However, I enjoy the sense of discovery, the opportunity to solve problems, to be outdoors, and to be present in the experience of the land. I am not a typical farmer. You may even say that I am not a farmer at all, yet I don't think that matters. I began as an artist and I'm likely to finish that way.

Why Garlic

Hudson Clove's primary crop is garlic and the reasons are simple. The garlic season is counter to the regular growing season, in good soil it grows rather easily, and generally stores well. In the marketplace, there is a dearth of variety. Even the farmers at NYC Greenmarket do not provide much beyond the basic Porcelain variety strain "German Hardy."

I would be remiss If I didn't explain that garlic is a beautiful crop, each head extracted from the soil is a sculpture. It has one of the most fascinating growth cycles, defies understanding at times, and reproduces asexually from several different means. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants; today's garlic essentially a clone of garlic grown hundreds, possibly thousands of years ago.  Have you ever seen the garlic scape, or flower stalk, furl and unfurl en masse? You should. Much like apples or carrots or any number of other vegetables, there is a difference in flavor and appearance among garlic varieties and strains. Among these are early and late, long and short-storing varieties so that there is only one month that I consider buying garlic at the grocer.

To keep things interesting, I also grow a few French Grey or Griselle shallots and some Saffron Crocus.

Can't I Plant

Over the coming years I will concentrate on offering culinary garlic, or table garlic, rather than offer garlic for gardeners. My experience buying seed from various sources has not induced much confidence in available stock and I prefer to stay out of that arena for the time being.

Garlic growers plant sets, which is another way of saying they plant cloves from bulbs that were dug out of the field three months prior. Although seed planting is the best way to ensure you do not transplant harmful pests along with your cloves, garlic does not reliably produce seed. Planting sets will always run the risk of transferring an invisible pest or pathogen from one field to another, but it is the only way. We try to isolate, cull, and destroy any plant that shows signs of disease and honest growers will never knowingly sell infected sets to a farmer or gardener.